~ Early American Folk & Blues music~

There is a long forgotten fact in America, that is that in the 1880's this type of music was NEVER played on Resonators, Fender, Gibson or any of those store bought guitars, not only did they not exist, but at that time if you lived in poverty, there was no way to buy a nice guitar, so most people made there own. If you want to see that absolute most authentic Delta Blues & Slide guitar, watch this complete video above. It is played with simple home made 3 string guitars, these are the real thing, there is no mass market music store guitars, this is Primal Americana, this is the Delta Blues!

A few words about this site

About this site, my name is John McNair. I love American History and Folk Music. I really enjoy learning about not only the music, but the instruments the people made it on. One thing I've noticed in my research of the 3 string guitar, is that there is a rich and long history in America. It has come in many forms over the years, but there is not much information out there on these guitars. For many years now I have struggled to obtain answers to all my curious questions.

Since there is not much information or any books on the subject of this instrument, I have tryed to gather and record as much as possible the history of these wonderful and often quirky instruments and its players. I have put this website up for all to enjoy and to perhaps further your own research.

If you would like to learn more on this subject, check out my other site Red Dog Guitars.com

This is but a tiny tip of the surface. So, Bookmark this site and check back often..... This blog runs backwards so when you visit be sure to scroll past the intro photos and videos.

Lastly, a quick heads up. I am the worst speller and far to busy in life to double check grammer and spelling on everything I post. Also I end just about everything with an exclamtion point like this!!!!...the reason is because I don't even waste my time posting something unless I think it's absolutly cool, therefor I will usualy be so stoked I'll be like..."hey check out what I found!!!! Wow!!!"

If you are reading this and wondering just "What's all the Hub Bub Bub with a Three string guitar???" I could ramble for days and show you countless photos that would dazzle your senses, but like they say, "If a photo is worth a 1000 words" than surely a video is worth a million???

If you only ever see one video of a 3-string cigar box guitar in action, watch this one, watch it till the end WITH AN OPEN MIND before you decide if you like the type of sound a primitive 3 stringer will produce. I promise it will change everything you thought you knew and it will explain the truth about the origin of the Delta Blues.

Like most people, I am sure your first thought is "Why use only 3 strings, isn't adding a 6 string neck better???....You're going through all the effort of building a guitar, why not just put on 6 strings??" Well, when you add a 6 string neck, it sounds like a regular guitar no matter what you do or how you play. You'll never achieve that dirty south, raunchy Delta sound on a 6 string guitar or with a 6 string neck.

I once heard that as consumers we are constantly bombarded with advertising unconsciously all day no matter where you go...billboards, product labels, fliers and TV adds....and yeah, a little of that goes on around here too! Yes, some people buy guitars from my site "Red Dog Guitars.com", but IT IS NOT MY GOAL TO SELL YOU A GUITAR, I only build a few guitars a month.....I could never supply the demand for these fun guitars to everyone who visits this site. I hope that it inspires you to make your own, if you feel you might not be up to the task of making one, there is many great builders out there who make them, look around and I know you can find one really well made...just google "Cigar Box Guitar."

My main goal with this website is to share this wonderful form and lost art of playing homemade and 3 stringed instruments, to invite you to take a step back in time, and if you are bored with playing a regular guitar or tired of the continued invasion of Chinese made products and just can't seem to have fun making music, then what you need is to go back to the roots of how music is made. Try something simpler. This form of guitar will take you back to the lost early days of Blues and Folk music...still confused about how easy and fun a three string guitar is???

I will just cut-copy-and paste this strait from the "horse's website"

If you would like to play Delta Blues it's "airiness" that you hear comes from the music's simplicity, it is STRIPED DOWN, I am sure you have heard you only need 3 notes in a chord???? well, that's not true for Blues, you only need 2 notes! ...they only need to blend well (such as A and E) and most Blues music is based off one note at a time (most often slide guitar is one note ringing, everything else dampened)... folk music is not suppose to be complicated, over refined, lickity split fretted notes, complicated jazz chords and scales, beefed up high power, or masked with computer effects...it's just strum'n acoustic slide or plug n' play with lite power on a small amp....plus, for the guitarist, what more could be easier than playing simple slide guitar with a pluck here and there??? It's basically one finger guitar! Just connect the dots up and down the strings as you play, add slide and you've got that sound you've been after all those years but just couldn't ever find it no matter what 6 string guitar you've played.

That is the key and link to the Delta Blues that has long been forgotten in the mass market guitar world.

Roosterman's Trytone Slab-tar

This was a custom ordered three string guitar for a chap in Germany who wanted something that looks like 'It was built out of stuff found in a shed in the 1920s', with a touch of rustic charm.